Tag Archive for: Learning

Help Reduce Your Child’s Exam Stress

BrightSparkz’ Top Tips for Reducing Exam Stress

This time of year is busy on all fronts, and if you have children of school-going age life gets just that little bit more hectic as you help them navigate their exam and study workload, and the exam stress that inevitably goes along with it!

Here are 5 tips to help you and your child cope with exam stress during this busy season:

  1. Encourage routine – this includes study time, mealtimes, bed times, as well as making some time for fun and exercise!
  1. Have healthy snacks readily available – Chocolate, energy drinks, and coffee all result in fatigue and spikes and dips in blood sugar levels and concentration. Instead, have a supply of healthy snack options like fruit, nuts, popcorn and ensure they drink lots of water!
  1. Create a study space – Teen bedrooms are not the neatest of places! Try and find an alternative study space (as uncluttered and distraction-free as possible) which can be turned into a “study-zone”.
  1. Provide support – this goes beyond just offering academic support. Emotional support and encouragement goes a long way to boost confidence and positive feelings. Offer to make a cup of tea from time to time, or PVR their favourite show for later :)
  1. Planning ahead – Have a calendar on the wall with all upcoming exam dates. Don’t rush to get to school on the morning of the exam – pack the night before, and leave enough time margin to get to school early.

All that’s left is to make sure you keep a smile on your face :)

Good luck!

From us on the BrightSparkz Team

Does Self-Discipline Outdo IQ in Performance?

How do IQ and self-discipline impact academic results?

Valid IQ tests have been available since the early 1900s. We’ve generally thought that a high IQ means better academic performance. How then can we account for such stark variations among learners with the same IQ? The answer lies in laziness and a lack of motivation versus self-discipline and perseverance.

The scientific evidence

In a longitudinal study, by Duckworth and Seligman, of 140 eighth-grade students, self-discipline, measured by self-report, parent report, teacher report, and monetary choice questionnaires in the fall predicted final school results, school attendance, regular achievement-test scores, and selection into a competitive high school program the following spring.

In duplication with 164 eighth graders; a behavioural delay-of-gratification task, a questionnaire on study habits, as well as a group-administered IQ test were added to the study. Self-discipline measured in the fall accounted for more than twice as much change as IQ. This was true for results, high-school selection, school presence, hours spent doing homework, hours spent watching television, and the time of day students began their homework. The effect of self-discipline on final grades held even when controlling for first-marking-period grades, achievement-test scores, and measured IQ. These findings suggest a major reason for students falling short of their intellectual potential: their failure to exercise self-discipline.

What were the results?

In the study, it was found that adolescents with a higher IQ outperformed their more impatient and volatile peers on every academic performance variable. Variables included report card results, standardized achievement test scores, admission into more competitive high schools, as well as attendance. Learners with a higher level of self-discipline also earned higher GPAs and achievement test scores. These learners had a better chance of attaining admission to tertiary education, were absent less from school, spent a greater deal of time on homework and less time watching television and instead started their homework earlier.

Unlike IQ studies, research based on consistent self-discipline was able to predict gains in academic performance throughout the school year. A study by Wolfe and Johnson in 1995 found self-discipline to be the only one among 32 measured personality variables (such as self-esteem, extraversion, energy level, etc.) that was able to predict a learner’s college grade point average.

The effects of poor self-discipline

Sadly, many teachers and parents have witnessed first-hand how some learners have wasted their academic potential. Tutors and teachers will inevitably meet learners who have the intellectual potential to excel academically and yet do not because they refuse to put in the time and effort; they lack self-discipline. So what are some of the reasons for a lack in self-discipline?

According to studies, one reason is the need for instant gratification. For example, Learner A has maintained consistently low or average academic results which are a direct result of his not studying enough or putting sufficient time into his work. Learner A then suddenly decides to study hard for an upcoming test but fails to see much improvement. Learner A then assumes studying does not help, failing to realize that good grades and a substantial improvement in academic results require time, determination and self-discipline. 

What can you do?

Good results are not always a quick fix. Sometimes, improvement takes time and extra work over a long-term period. Brightsparkz Tutors realise the importance of determination and self-discipline. Our tutors will help your learner to improve their academic performance on a long-term basis rather than short term. They do this by motivating learners to do their best, and by making learning more enjoyable. This creates self-discipline! Let us help your learner to achieve their best with our adept and knowledgeable tutors!

To read the full article, visit: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40064361

Get a tutor to help your learner make the best of their IQ!

We’ve Got Talent! The 2014 BrightSparkz Top Tutor Awards

Top Tutors in 2014

Every year BrightSparkz awards the 5 Top Tutors in each branch with a Sparkz Award. This recognizes their commitment to our company, their willingness to go the extra mile with their learners, and their tutoring potential. Find out who was a top tutor in 2014!

One of award-winners, Jeanri Coetzee shares her top tutor tip: Find out about your learner’s interests, whether it is sport or music, and use this in your examples and explanations. This way a learner relates better to the work and understand how it applies beyond textbook theory.”

The categories and winners of each award for 2014 are as follows:

  1. The Back-up Plan Award

Awarded to the tutor who constantly makes themselves available at short notice and who is ALWAYS willing to assist where needed, whenever or wherever!

Winners: Andrew McCabe (JHB) and Jeanri Coetzee (CT)

  1. The Admin King & Admin Queen Award

Awarded to the tutor who demonstrates exceptional administrative abilities and organisational skills on a consistent basis.

Winners: Ben Slabbert (JHB) & Nicola Durandt (CT)

  1. The Longest Yard Award

Awarded to the tutor who has been with us for more than 2 years and has consistently displayed diligence & excellence.

Winner: Alex Arndt (JHB) and Zhuo Fang (CT)

  1. The X-Factor Award

For receiving consistently excellent feedback from clients and for contributing to a dramatic improvement in learners’ results.

Winner: Gail Ingle (JHB) & Alexander Gordon (CT)

  1. The New Recruit Award

Awarded to the tutor who has been with us for less than a year and has shown great enthusiasm & potential along the way.

Winner: Tselane Steeneveldt (JHB) and Ruth Miti (CT)


There was some tough competition, and we are very proud of all of our top tutors for all the effort put in during 2014!

How To Become A Great Tutor

Top 6 Tips for Being a Great Tutor

  1. Have a sense of humour – A sense of humour can help to relieve any tension in a session. It is especially helpful when tutoring learners who are shy and reluctant to learn or to participate. A sense of humour will also ‘lighten’ the mood, making your lesson more fun, give the feelings of going by quicker, and most importantly, memorable. The more memorable the lesson, the more memorable the content learnt!
  2. A positive attitude – Sometimes nerves may rear their ugly head and stress out learners. Stress can result in feelings of inadequacy and a lack of motivation. Times like this require you to be the motivation, encouragement and sense of positivity!
  3. Realistic expectations – An effective tutor will have realistic expectations. Your expectations need to be based on each learner’s individual situation and needs. It is important to set goals that are not too high or too low. Too low expectations can make your learner feel like you don’t believe them or to be lazy while too high expectation can place too much pressure on your learner.
  4. Consistence – In order to create a positive learning environment your students should know what to expect from you each session. You need to be reliable. This will create a safe learning environment for the students and they will be more likely to succeed.
  5. Fairness – A fair tutor is consistent, encouraging and sets realistic goals. A fair tutor will not teach in a hostile or confrontational environment. Instead, he or she will be encouraging when tutoring as well as when providing adequate and helpful feedback.
  6. Flexibility – While consistency is important, it is important to remember that anything can happen and problems may arise at any moment. Interruptions do happen and so a flexible attitude is important when assigning homework tasks and goals.

Problems Facing First-Time Tutees

  • Many learners may be nervous when learning in a one-on-one environment for the first time. Learners may find it hard to communicate how they feel or what exactly they may be struggling to understand. Your job is to create a positive environment that your learner feels comfortable in.
  • Not all learners have received much encouragement with their studies and so might feel doubtful of their potential. It is important that you, as a tutor, take the time to sit down with your learner and set realistic goals.
  • Some learners may struggle to see their tutor as more than an assessor. This is a difficult view to overcome, especially if you are helping your learner study towards an exam. The key is to be open, friendly, and to encourage the learner’s self-assurance so make your style of tutoring non-confrontational.
  • Sometimes you may forget or overlook when a learner may feel obliged to defer to you. This could be because learners are not used to feeling on the spot in a one-on-one environment. A good tutor will notice any such feelings and adjust their tutoring habits accordingly. Tutors should NOT be the only ones speaking during a session. Instead, tutors need to encourage learners to express their own opinions and establish an open dialogue. This will build your learner’s confidence, to encourage them to think independently and will help you (as a tutor) to understand what your learner may have difficulty communicating.

No matter the problem that you or your learner may face, it is vital to be patient with them, and to build their confidence through reassurance and praise. Your ultimate goal is to help your learner become comfortable and assured in the subject, even if they occasionally make mistakes.

Encouraging tutees to contribute

Learners are more likely to engage when:

  • They feel comfortable around you
  • You show them respect and encouragement, ESPECIALLY when they make mistakes
  • Learning is seen as a co-operative exercise, not a militant one
  • You both agree upon realistic and attainable tasks
  • They are encouraged to contribute their own feelings and are not just lectured to
  • Feedback is common so miscommunication does not occur
  • Avoid giving answers to unresponsive or shy. Rather frame your questions in a different way
  • They are presented with open-ended questions that encourages independent thought

When directing discussions it is important to think about and remember to:

  • Give regular feedback that is supportive and constructive
  • To provide corrections in a non-confrontational or hostile way
  • Praise good work and emphasise work done well rather than work done badly
  • Be friendly!
  • Balance tutor and learner contributions
  • Encourage quiet learners, but take care not to overpower them

Closing lessons – To determine how your learner feels about lesson progression, ask open-ended questions such as:

  • What has been the most significant thing you have learned today?
  • Do you have any questions after today’s lesson?
  • Discuss homework that you have given and make sure your learner is able to tackle it with understanding
  • Make a self-evaluation checklist. This can help you be the best tutor you can be and to stay on point!

If you would like a tutor of your own please get in touch today!

How to Write an Essay

We all know the basics of how to write an essay and most of us are pretty confident in our abilities to write a decent essay. However, there are certain points that are easily forgotten and let’s not forget those annoying little mistakes that sneak their way in and take away marks. Our tutors have offered us a recap of effective essay writing and clarification on a few errors that are easily fixed.

What is the difference between a discursive and argumentative essay?

Discursive Essays: Discuss different views of one particular topic. Every point FOR should have a point AGAINST. It is important not to communicate your own opinion in discursive essays so stay away from using the words “I” and “me”. Be as objective as possible.

Argumentative Essays: Are an argument either for or against something.

The Writing Structure


The introduction is specifically for introducing the topic that your essay will discuss. At varsity level, your introduction should briefly state the aspects of the topic that you will be writing but it won’t hurt to start doing this in high school. For example, if you are writing an essay discussing the pros and cons of the death penalty, then you will introduce what the death penalty is. You will then state, very briefly, the aspects of the death penalty that you will be discussing.

In an argumentative essay – State what you are arguing in the introduction and give a brief explanation of how you will validate your argument.

In a discursive essay – State what you are discussing and the different views that relate to the topic.


The body of the essay should be the bulk of your writing.

Argumentative Essay – The body of your essay should have one paragraph per point that you make. Then each point must be emphasised and tie back to the introduction.

Discursive Essay – For every point that you make FOR something, you need to make a point AGAINST. Try not to convey any feelings of bias. Use words and phrases such as: However, this said, contrary to, and so on.  You should have one point for and one point against for every paragraph. These two points need to relate to one another in some way and every paragraph needs to relate back to the main topic.


Your conclusion sums up everything that you have discussed in the body of your essay; you MUST NOT make any new points or arguments in your conclusion. Some essays may require you to voice your own opinion in the conclusion but only do this when required.

Other NB Things to Remember

  • Always write short and concise sentences rather than long and pretty ones! While high English may seem like a good idea, essays are most convincing when sentences are short and to the point. Rather make one long sentence into two shorter ones! If you can, then use a period instead of a comma. The same goes for wording; if you can use one word instead of three, then do so.
  • Do not use the word “however” too often. Rather mix it up with; “this said”, “in relation to the above”, “as aforementioned”, “while so and so said this, X and Y said this” and any other similar examples that you can come up with. Varsities are especially strict on this!
  • Do not use word contractions; rather write out the two words. Write, “Do not” instead of “don’t” and “is not” instead of “isn’t”.
  • Never start a sentence with the words, “but” or “and”.
  • Don’t use the same word twice in a paragraph to explain or refer to the same thing
  • Write in the active voice rather than the passive wherever possible.
  • Validate every “fact” that you make (where did you get it from, why is this true?)
  • Book titles are italicised and poem names are in inverted comma
  • Do not use two words together that mean the same thing – this is redundant. How many times have you heard someone say, “I need to enter my PIN number.” PIN is an acronym for personal identification number; so, in the statement quoted above, the word “number” is redundant. Some other examples include ATM machine, HPV virus and ACT test.
  • State what “it” is. Don’t assume the reader knows
  • Eliminate comma splices: When a sentence includes a comma separating two distinct thoughts, it is referred to as a comma splice. If the two parts of the sentence will each stand independently, use a period instead of a comma. If the parts are loosely associated and together from a complete thought, use a semicolon.
  • Do not confuse “who” and “whom”: “Who” and “whoever” are subjective pronouns; “whom” and “whomever” are in the objective case. This means that “who” (and the same for “whoever”) is always subject to a verb, and that “whom” (and the same for “whomever”) is always the object in a sentence. The two sentences below illustrate the easy usage in which “who” is clearly the subject and “whom” is clearly the object. In such simple cases, virtually everyone can determine the proper choice:

If you are still not 100% sure how to write an essay, our tutors are available to help you.

Happy writing :)

Top 10 Universities in South Africa

Which are the best universities in South Africa?

Many learners may feel unsure about where to enroll for their tertiary education. We have compiled a list of South Africa’s top 10 best Universities. We have assembled this list according to much research, Africa.com, student opinions, reviews and the reputable Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

According to www.timeshighereducation.co.uk, “The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2014-2015 list the best global universities and are the only international university performance tables to judge world class universities across all of their core missions – teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. The top universities rankings employ 13 carefully calibrated performance indicators to provide the most comprehensive and balanced comparisons available, which are trusted by students, academics, university leaders, industry and governments.”

Additionally, Africa.com collected both quantitative and qualitative data to determine which of the many universities in South Africa make the top 10 list. A variety of criteria were considered including the following: a) undergraduate and graduate school reputation among higher education peers; b) student selectivity for entering undergraduate class; c) quality and quantity of faculty research, including depth of research facilities and engagement beyond immediate community, and d) international student ratio—the degree to which institution draws students from outside of its national boundaries.

While no one university is a perfect fit for everyone, I do hope that this list provides some helpful and important information when deciding where to study.

1.) University of Cape Town (UCT) University Of Cape Town

Established in 1829, UCT is South Africa’s oldest university and makes a frequent appearance on yearly varsity ‘best’ lists such as the Times Higher Education World University Rankings list. The university is considered the top research institution on the continent, with more “A” rated researchers than any other South African university. It is the highest ranked African university in both the QS World and the Times Higher Education world university rankings. According to the latest Most Recent World University Rankings at www.timeshighereducation,co.uk, UCT places at number 124.

Other than offering the best sports management diploma in the world (as recently bestowed by the Edunivarsal International Scientific Committee), UCT is also considered one of the country’s most environmentally friendly universities. Over the past five years a number of sustainability projects were launched, including Green Campus Initiative, an effort focused on making UCT more environmentally-friendly.

Notable alumni include heart surgeon Christiaan Barnard and at least three Nobel Laureates, including biophysicist Sir Aaron Klug (also a WITS alum), the late Professor Alan MacLeod Cormack, and author JM Coetzee.

2.) University of the Witwaterstrand (WITS) Johannesburg

Wits is considered to be one of the top research universities on the continent and boasts 20 South African Research Chairs, seven research institutes and 20 research units. Just less than 900 academic staff members accommodate over 30,000 students, ten percent of whom are international students.

According to the latest Most Recent World University Rankings at www.timeshighereducation,co.uk, WITS places between numbers 251 – 275.

WITS University has one of the largest fossil collections in the Southern Hemisphere, 14 museums, 2 art galleries, and 12 libraries.
Noteworthy alumni include former South African President Nelson Mandela (he studied law in the 1940s), political activist Helen Suzman, former judge Richard Goldstone, and businessman Patrice Motsepe. The university is also the alma mater of three other Nobel Prize Laureates; biophysicist Aaron Klug, biologist Sydney Brenner, and author Nadine Gordimer.

3.) Stellenbosch University, Western Cape Stellenbosch University

Located near beautiful wine regions; Stellenbosch University has been deemed one of the top research universities in the country. 28,000 students are taught by 915 lecturers and close to 10 percent of those admitted are international students. Providing accomplished tutors. According to the most recent World University Rankings at www.timeshighereducation.co.uk, the University of Stellenbosch places between numbers 276 – 300

The University’s own iShack system was developed to improve the living situations of those living in informal settlements through the use of a basic solar energy system. The initiative was recently awarded a grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that will help upscale the project. With a strong emphasis of research throughout all departments, its Desmond Tutu TB Centre recently won an international prize for its research on childhood tuberculosis (TB) and its community-based approach to TB and HIV care.

4.) Rhodes University, Eastern Cape

Whist one of the smaller universities, comprising of only 7,000 students, Rhodes University is one of the most diverse, since roughly one quarter of its students are international. Due to its small student base, the student to teacher / tutor ratio is more favourable at one lecturer to about 15 students.

According to the official Rhodes University website, all of its degrees are internationally recognised and the university’s International Library of African Music (ILAM) is said to the “greatest repository of African music in the world”. Additionally, the university’s school of Journalism and Media Studies is thought to be one of the best in the country.
Notable Rhode students include virologist Max Theiler (who was awarded a Nobel Prize for developing a yellow fever vaccine), author Wilbur Smith, and internationally recognised journalist Anand Naidoo.

5.) University of Pretoria, Pretoria University of Pretoria

Also considered one of the leading research universities in South Africa, UP offers more than 1,800 programmes at its main campus and hosts more than 50,000 students.

It has the highest research output in South Africa, a position it has held proudly since 1997 and in September last year, the university launched a new research initiative focused on the country’s future energy security, IRT on Energy. It’s also set to become the first university on the continent to offer simulated underground mining training at a Virtual Reality Centre. UP is also home to the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), one of the country’s foremost Business Schools, which offers internationally credited MBA programmes. The university was recently named the top business school in Africa on the UK Financial Times Executive Education rankings list.

6.) University of the Free State, Bloemfontein University of Free State

The University is comprised of three campuses spread across the city, and hosts more than 33,000 students, including more than 2,000 from abroad.

UFS prides itself on its 7 accredited Academic clusters, 107 NRF-accredited professors and 18 international research partnerships. The University has also paved the way in forward-thinking, from being the first university in the country to have a Department of Sign Language, and the only institution on the continent that offers a postgraduate programme in Disaster Management.

Noteworthy alumni include, Former South African president P.W. Botha, as well as cricketer Hansie Cronje and author Antjie Krog.

7.) University of Kwazulu-Natal, Durban University of Kwa-Zulu Natal

Hosting over 42,000 students and 1,600 staff, this university is the largest in Sub-Saharan Africa. Over 2,500 of its students are foreign, having come from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), China and India.
Its medical school campus is home to CAPRISA, one of the largest and most effective HIV and AIDS research centres in South Africa. It also produced one of the highest university research outputs during 2010, ranking third overall, and thereby contributing close to 12 percent of the country’s research publications by major universities.
Notable alumni include Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, Chief Justice Honourable Mogoeng Mogoeng, and businessman Sol Kerzner.

8.) University of Western Cape, Cape Town University of Western Cape

During the years of Apartheid, the University of the Western Cape was where many non-white political activists from across the country were able to get an education. Now, 50 years since its establishment, the university hosts 15,000 students of all nationalities and cultures.

Earlier this year, the university achieved the inaugural Green Campus of the Year award for its many environmentally-friendly enterprises, including its recycling projects and the use of solar powered golf carts for campus workers to get around. UWC is also dedicated to the research and development of free and open-source software. It is the only African member of the Open Courseware Consortium.

Political activist Allan Boesak, and Danny Jordaan, CEO of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, have both graduated from UWC.

9.) University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg

The University of Johannesburg has four campuses located across the city and caters to just more than 48,000 students, of which 2,000 are international. The university places great importance on research and has over 20 research centres and around 90 rated researchers. Research has improved greatly, most especially in areas of life sciences, physical sciences, literature, language and linguistics, as well as management science and business commerce.

10.) Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town

CPUT has just over 32,000 students enrolled on its two campuses, one in Cape Town CBD and the other in Bellville. CPUT is known for its take in creative, more specialist areas of study and for its practical, hands-on approach to education. This is a beneficial and worth-while consideration for those who are not strictly academically inclined.

Brightsparkz is proud to have tutors from UCT, WITS, Stellenbosch, and the universities of Pretoria and Johannesburg. We also have tutors from UWC, CPUT, and UKZN as well. Find out more about our tutors.

Your Study Playlists

Can music help you to study? This is one of the most cited questions both online as well as by those desperate for any help to aid their concentration levels. The answer can fall anywhere between “Listening to Mozart makes you a genius” and “Just be quiet and work.” We look at why study playlists can work.

Many people will advocate for The Mozart Effect. The Mozart Effect suggest that listening to music, most especially Mozart, and that of a similar calibre, is able to boost one’s spatial-temporal reasoning, or simply put, aids one’s ability to remember things on a more long term basis as well as in finding solutions to various logical problems. However, certain studies refute this Mozart Theorem, calling it exaggerated and overblown. Other doctors’ mention points that validate both sides to the question.

In one study, researches of the University of Illinois found that listening to music in all types of work increased work output by 6.3% over a control group. In another study, dissected at MetaFilter, 56 employees working on basic computer tasks were found to be more productive when there was no music playing over the same period tested with music. Supposedly any one study could either negate or validate the question either proving or disproving the Mozart Theory. Realistically speaking, findings derived across various studies are also not necessarily applicable to each and every person. Ultimately, the answer depends on each individual’s workspace, state of mind, personal attention span, ability to focus on one or more tasks at a time, and more.

But if you are one of those people who enjoy listening to music while working, studying, being tutored or completing a task; then these study playlists could be just the thing for you! Find your perfect study playlists below.

Super Chilled:

The XX – Missing

Ben Howard – Promise

Daughter – Youth

Any Other Name – Thomas Newman

Mr Probz – Waves (The original and not the radio mix)

James Vincent – Wicked Game

Of Monsters and Men – Slow and Steady

London Grammar – Hey Now

Blue Foundation – Eyes on Fire

Iron and Wine – Such Great Heights

Brenden Canning – Bullied Days

Enya – Watermark

Trance and Electro

Bar 9 – Dancin With the Devil

Phobia – Phobia (DJ Hell mix) [1991/2007]

Stefan Goldmann – Sleepy Hollow [2006]

Berlin Inc – Berlin (Peace Mix)

Feathers of Sound – Water

Above & Beyond – Above & Beyond Live @ ASOT

Airstream – Electra

DJ Shah – Mellomaniac (The chill out mix)

Marcconi Union – Weightless


SinfiniMusic – Sergei Rachmaninov – Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43

pietrogold – Chopin Nocturne

SeamlessR – [Old] SeamlessR – Sunset

Saimonse – Saimonse – Without You I’m Nothing

Chronos Archipel – Brain Harmonies, Vol.2

The Girl with the Flaxen Hair – Sleep Music, Vol.1

Nimrod from the “Enigma Variations” arranged for piano

Mozart – Canzonette Sull’aria

Home-Schooling Pros and Cons

The debates surrounding the pros and cons of home-schooling are endless. There seems to be a limitless supply of studies and research done on the matter. We’ve put together some background knowledge and important information about home-schooling in South Africa; a brief analysis of some of the most important factors to think about when considering whether to home-school your children, as well as an short pros and cons list for easy reading.

Some Background and NB Information on Home-Schooling in South Africa

Home-schooling is considered under section 51 of the South African School Act. The Act states that, “A parent may apply to the Head of the Department for the registration of a learner to receive education at the learner’s home.” It is stipulated that a “learner may be registered for education at home if the provincial Head of the Department” is satisfied that registration will be “in the child’s best interest, that the minimum requirements of the curriculum in public schools will be met and that the standard of the home education will at least match that of public schools”. Home-schooling is accepted as a valid schooling option in South Africa. This said; the Head of the Education Department is given discretionary jurisdiction thereof.

Studies by Colfax and Colfax in 1988 founded criticisms against conventional schooling included: “anti-intellectualism, conformity, passivity, rigidity, disorganisation, over-socialising, under-socialising, and testing too often, testing too seldom, failing to acknowledge differences” and “course content”.

Other reasons parents may decide to home-school their children include:

  • Physical disabilities may not always be catered for in public schools
  • Learning disabilities or special needs exceeding that available at public schools
  • The increasing cost of school fees
  • The large student-to-teacher ratio in schools
  • The declining standards of public education
  • A possible lack of classroom education
  • Violence and peer pressure in schools
  • Religious reasons
  • Difficulties experienced by groups who are unable to deal with multiculturalism in schools

 A Brief on Some of the Major Debates Surrounding Home-Schooling

One of the biggest reasons advocating for home-schooling is that each learner grows and develops at different stages and in different ways depending on ability, maturity, and interest levels. One benefit to home-school tutoring is that each learner has access to an education ‘system’ that is tailored to his or her learning pace and needs. This educational freedom applies to parents as well as learners. Parent’s lives no longer exist according homework, school hours and the school calendar. Home-schooling thus enables both parents and learners to set school hours according to their individual needs and wants.

There is also more personal and learning time for home-schooled learners than when attending conventional schools. This is due to a variety of reasons such as less time spent getting properly dressed for school and driving times to and from school and school activities. Additionally, a typical classroom lesson is 45minutes. Another 15 minutes between each lesson is for walking to and from different classrooms, bathroom breaks and getting settled for each following lesson. With home-school tutoring, this time is saved. This means more time for rest and relaxation!

Another problem facing almost any school is peer pressure and bullying. Studies show that, for some learners, bullying and the like can have devastating and even long-term effects. Some findings concluded that self-esteem is more likely to remain intact among home-schooled learners. One counter argument to this notion though is that public schools, through peer pressure and bullying, better equips learners for the harsh realities of the ‘real world’. Some studies even go so far as to suggest that peer pressure and bullying teaches young learners to build character and become emotionally more adept.

Furthermore, one conception is that home schooling provides learners with a better sense of reality in that they are not dictated by adolescent trends and dangerous experimentation. Home schooled learners have more freedom of expression in their dress and physical appearance. But, can the same be said for freedom of thought? There is no one answer to this question. Certain households place greater emphasis on religious beliefs, tradition and familial ideals. Many families feel their religious and spiritual beliefs are an important part of who they are and home-schooling provides the opportunity for parents to incorporate their beliefs into their daily lives. However, there are others who question whether public schools, through exposure to different beliefs, traditions and ideals allow for greater freedom of thought than through familial learning environments.

There are many points to deliberate when considering any means of education. Ultimately, it is up to you and your learner and depends on you as an individual.


  • You are able to decide what, how and when your child learns something
  • You are able to make learning more exciting according to your child’s interests
  • Your child can be given in depth assistance and personal attention according to his or her strengths and struggles
  • Weekly schedules and school outings can be created without the constraints of a traditional learning environment
  • You are able to pass on your values and beliefs to your children and answer any questions that they might have
  • Your children are protected from the bullying and peer pressure that is so often a daily struggle in traditional school environments
  • You are able to create a more effective learning environment by teaching one-on-one
  • Your child’s natural talents and abilities can be nurtured
  • You are able to address important and personal issues with your children when you feel that they are ready


You may have to:

  • Spend 24 hours a day with your children which may not be ideal for you and your family
  • Validate home-schooling to friends and family who may not agree with your decision
  • Spend a greater deal of money on education than previously accustomed
  • Put in more effort to find friends with whom your children can share meaningful and quality friendships
  • Deal with arguments between siblings if you are home-schooling more than one of your children. Making time to home-school more than one learner may also be challenging if they are each in different grades and learn at a different pace.
  • Parent’s loss of income because he or she has to be home to fulfil the role of an educator

If you require further information or would like a home-school tutor to assist your child please get in touch!


Are You Rewriting Your Matric Exams

The May/June 2020 Amended Senior Certificate (adult Matric) and National Senior Certificate examination scheduled to start on 4 May 2020 and conclude on 12 June 2020, has been postponed by the Department of Basic Education due to the restriction imposed by the COVID-19 lockdown.

The May/June examination will now be combined with the November 2020 examination.

Details regarding the combined June and November 2020 examination will be communicated to candidates in due course. Candidates are encouraged by the Department of Education to use this additional time to continue with their examination preparations. Find out more: https://wcedonline.westerncape.gov.za/mayjune-2020-exams-faq

Are you unhappy with your Matric results? Are you stressing about college and university acceptance? Rewriting your Matric is an option!


If you have failed only one or two subjects, then writing the supplementary examinations is an option for you. Rewriting your Matric is a popular choice for many learners because you are able to rewrite only those subjects you are unhappy with or need to improve in order to gain varsity acceptance.

If you think that rewrites may be an option for you then check your local newspapers, the internet and schools for the application deadline dates as each one is different.  The rewrite exam timetable can be obtained from the Provincial Education Department head office or from your school. The examinations will be offered in November of 2020 (normally in June of each year). All learners who wish to rewrite should visit their school or nearest office of the Department of Education to register and make sure that they qualify for rewrites.

Should you have any queries, you can contact the office via www.education.gov.za or info@dbe.gov.za  or call 0800 202 933.

If you do not qualify for a particular department at a particular institution because your Matric results are too low, there are a number of bridging courses that institutions offer which allow someone into his or her desired field. Visit the FirstStep.me higher education directory for various institutions. The best idea would be to contact the South African Department of Basic Education, as they should be able to provide a list of establishments whereby you can improve your matric with more specific details.

The best option for you depends on your results, your further education plans and the marks that you hope to achieve. Whichever option you decide, BrightSparkz Tutors is here to help! Brightsparkz Tutors sends only the most educated and best-suited tutors to you and can assist you in preparing for rewriting your Matric. Our tutors are reliable, efficient and best of all, fun! We make learning easier, quicker and more enjoyable. Visit www.brightsparkz.co.za to book your exam rewrite tutor today!

So shed some stress as we shed some light!

Tutoring Learners with Dyslexia

In order to really help learners’ with dyslexia, you need to understand what exactly dyslexia is. Dyslexia is a learning disability that causes an individual to struggle with reading and writing. It can also affect other areas of a person’s life such as with memory skills, focusing and organization. When you understand how to teach a learner with dyslexia, you can help to improve their self-awareness as well as their cognitive skills by using teaching methods that include a multi-sensory approach. This can help them, not only in the classroom, but in other areas of their lives as well. Learners with dyslexia differ significantly in their ability to give oral presentations, partake in discussions, write letters, numbers, and paragraphs, spelling and have difficulty working in noisy or disorderly settings.

The following tips may help to improve your tutoring as well as their performance:

If you are helping the learner with a project – Outline the task before you start.  Think it through and figure out what steps to take, what is needed and how much time it will take to complete. Break a big project up into smaller and less intimidating sections.  Prioritise the work, not only by what is due, but also by what requires more or less time.

During a lesson:

  • Provide step-by-step instructions
  • Arrange work from the easiest to the hardest. Early success keeps learners motivated to work!
  • Present new or difficult information in small parts and complete each section in steps
  • A regular review of previous lessons can help learners connect new and old information
  • Don’t fall into the ‘no homework’ trap.  Instead, use any free time to do revision or begin work that is due later
  • Oftentimes, asking the learner to repeat directions and information in their own words can help them understand what is required of them. This is also a vital part for recalling information at a later stage when you are not necessarily there to assist
  • Combine verbal and visual information. Studies show that dyslexic learners are more likely to understand and retain visual information than information that is verbal or written
  • Use visual prompts. Put symbols or bullets next to questions or activities that are worth more marks. This helps learners to spend the right amount of time on each question
  • For learners who have difficulty with handwriting, the response mode should be changed to include a variety of answering methods such as underlining, selecting from multiple choices, sorting, or marking
  • Reduce the amount of copying. Instead, ask the learner to repeat what has been read or heard in his or her own words
  • Have learners turn lined paper vertically for math. This helps to keep numbers in the appropriate columns

Lastly, patience and encouragement is key! Build up a level of communication between you and your learner to improve your understanding of one another. Communication and understanding will provide much-needed encouragement, increase work performance and to get the most out of your lessons together.

Do you have any thoughts or tips to share when tutoring a learner with Dyslexia?

Written By Kristin Naude – Brightsparkz Tutor – Maths Literacy, English and Business Studies Tutor